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Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER
Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER

In diagnosing what ails the sphere of local government, Michael Evans misconnects the dots (“Time for a major restructuring of local government”, June 29). He diagnoses the problem as being “cadre deployment”, a personnel matter, but then slips into discussing institutional restructuring and financing as the solution instead.

Surely, if staff incompetence remains in the system and gets lifted to a higher tier and wider geography, nothing changes. The solution has to be personnel driven too.  So, yes, cadre deployment must be stopped at municipal level as much as at the national oversight departments. But far more critical is that its consequences over the last 20 years must be affirmatively reversed with as much gusto, not unlike the effects of apartheid. 

Nothing less will turn the ship. The specialist town clerk must be reintroduced. Reporting to the clerk must be the traditional chief town engineer, planner, medic, treasurer, technologist, administrator, et cetera, whose departments must be staffed by skilled officials with experience in their fields.

They all need to be professionally registered and sheltered from politics to ensure technically correct prevails over politically correct.

Executive committees will politicise and thus deprofessionalise municipal administrations no less than an executive mayor. Without a neutral, dedicated and knowledgeable administration, no town can be managed properly, much less turned around. And for that, offering long-term careers with promotional prospects in the administration is essential.

It may sound old-fashioned not to prioritise departments such as economic & social development, climate resilience or policing, but returning to municipal basics is the only way forward. Rearranging the deckchairs will help least of all.  

Jens Kuhn
Cape Town

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